Ghanaian toddler sets record as youngest male artist


Danai Nesta Kupemba,BBC News

Chantelle Kuukua Eghan A toddler holding a paintbrush in front of a painting Chantelle Kuukua Eghan

His mother says Ace-Liam has a strong understanding of colours that complement each other

The mother of the Ghanaian toddler officially recognised as the world’s youngest male painter has told the BBC of her pride in her son’s artistic ability, and hopes he can take the art world by storm.

Ace-Liam Nana Sam Ankrah achieved the incredible feat aged one year and 152 days.

“He already knows what colours complement each other,” said his mother Chantelle Kuukua Eghan, who has been an artist herself for eight years.

Ms Eghan said she first realised his talent when he was only six months old.

Chantelle Kuukua Eghan A toddler standing in front of abstract paintingsChantelle Kuukua Eghan

Ms Eghan says her son’s work reminds her of Jackson Pollock

Ace-Liam was officially honoured with the title last Monday, after five months of waiting for Guinness World Records (GWR) to ratify their attempt.

“When I opened the email I just broke down and thanked God,” Ms Eghan told the BBC.

To qualify for the record, GWR said Ace-Liam needed to be part of a professional exhibition that was open to the public and sell his work.

It added that the work needed to be done to a professional standard and evidence presented that it was done on his own.

Ace-Liam’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Science and Technology in the capital Accra, from last December to early January.

He sold nine of the 10 pieces that were on display and was even commissioned by the First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, who attended the exhibit.

The prodigy, who turns two in July, has sold 15 paintings throughout his career so far, and is set to host an auction soon.

Chantelle Kuukua Eghan A baby painting on stretched out canvas Chantelle Kuukua Eghan

Ace-Liam started painting when he was just six months old

But this dive into the art world was initially unintended.

Ms Eghan said he stumbled into painting, or rather crawled into it.

She was working on a piece she’d been commissioned to do for Miss Universe 2023.

Being a single mother, she needed to keep Ace-Liam busy while she worked.

“How do I juggle painting and raising a kid?” she thought to herself.

Ingenuity hit, and she spread out a stretched canvas on the floor, put some paint on it and let him play with it.

“He was so intrigued by the bright colours,” she said warmly.

His first masterpiece was aptly named, The Crawl.

Ace-Liam’s artistry is defined by bright colours and acrylic paint to create dynamic abstract images.

“His paintings show someone who is intrigued about discovering things,” Ms Eghan told the BBC.

Chantelle Kuukua Eghan Smiling toddler painting on a canvasChantelle Kuukua Eghan

Ms Eghan says she wants to encourage parents to nurture their children’s talent

She hopes her son will follow in the footsteps of Ghanaian artist Amaoko Boafo.

“He has been able to put Ghana on the map when it comes to art,” she said.

But when it comes to international artists, she wants her son to look up to American artist Jackson Pollock and the UK’s Damian Hirst.

“Jackson Pollock allowed his inner child to still be with him, even when he was old. His work is vibrant and spontaneous and that is how I see my son’s work,” she said.

Ms Eghan hopes to get Ace-Liam an international scholarship to continue to grow his artistic talent.

“I want to encourage parents to nurture the talent in their kids from an early age,” she said.

For now Ace-Liam has his own studio, made for him by his devoted mother, ready to create his next masterpiece.

Dennis Temituro A toddler standing in front of abstract paintingsDennis Temituro

Ace-Liam has sold 15 paintings so far in his young career

Chantelle Kuukua Eghan First lady of Ghana (l), Chantelle Eghan (r), Ace Liam (middle)Chantelle Kuukua Eghan

The First Lady of Ghana (l) commissioned Ace-Liam to do a piece

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